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Foreign Films--Where are You Now?

Reading Globally

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Jul 21, 2013, 7:50pm Top

I've been enjoying watching a foreign film or two as I read within the quarterly challenges. I've mentioned this on the threads and it seems there are other people also interested.

This weekend I watched the Vietnamese Film The Owl and the Sparrow. I had originally chosen it for the southeast Asia quarter, but it also works as a being from a Francophone country although the original film language is Vietnamese, not French.


and an interview with the director:


It turned out to be a light, fluffy love story encouraged by a Saigon street kid. I found it enjoyable as a summer night movie, if a bit over-romantic. No one wanted to marry shy elephant keeper Hai (The Lu Le) due to his non-prestigious poor paying job. (JMO, if all elephant keepers looked like Hai and were such decent guys, zoos would have to beat women off with sticks.) It won several film festival awards; director Stephane Gauger commented that winning films tend to be cynical and he wanted to present a non-cynical, feel good story.

It was filmed on location in Saigon and I enjoyed seeing the modern city. My vision of Vietnamese cities are photos and newsreels forever frozen in the 70's during the war.

My next Francophone flick will probably be Yeelen from Mali.

I live in small town Montana so am limited by ordering through a popular online movie site.

So what are you watching?

Jul 22, 2013, 11:28am Top

I like to travel in film-watching as well.
So... recently I was "in Paris" watching an elderly couple face up to mortality in Michael Haneke's "Amour" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1602620/.

It is the story of an elderly couple who live together in their Paris apartment. Both teach music, their only daughter is married and lives in England. One morning the wife suffers a stroke. She makes her husband promise that she will not go into care... and we watch their relationship and their life together as her health declines.

A deeply involving story about two people and the choices they make.... not just the "plight of the elderly".
It is a disciplined film with beautiful performances (Jean-Louis Trintignant & Emanuelle Riva).
Strangely not depressing but very moving.

Aug 2, 2013, 1:26am Top

I'd been following the Francophone Countries thread, reading books from Moroccan authors, and decided to continue the theme this past weekend on my Netflix. I watched The Wedding Song (Le Chant des Mariées), set in 1942 Tunisia. It focuses on an Arab Muslim girl (Nour) and an Arab Jewish girl (Myriam), best friends who are coming of age together during a very turbulent time. The two must navigate adolescence, sexuality, pending marriages, restrictive/patriarchal social mores, bigotry, poverty, and the perils of wartime. The question of the film soon becomes, will their increasingly strained friendship survive the many tests placed upon it?

I can't rate it as the very best film I've ever seen, but it was quite enjoyable for an evening. The performances are good, particularly the two young women. It's easy to sympathize with each of them, and even with other characters -- the girls' fiancés, Myriam's mother, et al. -- who ordinarily might not seem so sympathetic, but it becomes clear that often they are simply trying to make the best of the bad situations in which they have found themselves.

I've also queued up The Grocer's Son, another French film, but have yet to watch it. I began watching the Israeli film Kadosh as well, but have not finished that.

Aug 3, 2013, 10:54am Top

I've been watching Russian films here - (some have subtitles):


Aug 4, 2013, 4:08pm Top

Just saw De Rouille et d'os with another great performance by Marion Cotillard.

Aug 12, 2013, 1:55am Top

I'm glad others are interested in doing this!

Great suggestions, I've added most to my queue. The Russian film site is defeating me, however. Anything in particular that you'd suggest? Perhaps I can find it on another site.

This weekend I tried watching Bamako. With Mali elections in the news, you'd think it would be a good choice for a Francophone movie......




It's the first movie in years I've given up on. I watched an hour and a half but couldn't force myself to watch the last half hour.

It's a diatribe against the World Bank and international companies. It purportedly has a story about a marriage in trouble, but 90% of what I watched was a mock hearing with lots of rhetoric and few facts. I was interested to see what they would say about the country's economic woes and how they are compounded by the West. But IMO a couple high school kids with an ipad could have done better.


We are very poor. Someone has taken all our money.

Who has taken our money?

The World Bank with their loans and their interest rates!

And who runs the World Bank?

Bush! If Bush is the one who made us poor, why should he complain that we cannot pay? (all spectators look concerned and nod wisely)


Aug 12, 2013, 3:21am Top

There are lots of great Russian films on Mosfilm - I think there may even be an icon that allows you to navigate the site in other languages (but not 100% sure). There are Tarkovsky films, as well as Russian favourites, such as The Twelve Chairs, Diamond Arm, Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears, Cruel Fate, etc...

Aug 18, 2013, 11:57am Top

I rely on DVDs for my world-cinema.
I've just been visiting 1931 Berlin with the children's story Emil & The Detectives in a German film version (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0021836/) scripted by a pre-Hollywood Billy Wilder. The same DVD also has a BFI restored 1935 British film version, a faithful almost word for word and scene for scene copy.

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